Using router to cut circles with jig

Routers are remarkable additions to our woodworking shops. But like all power tools, especially those designed for cutting wood, safety is an important concern.

Protecting your eyes, ears and lungs are at the core of working safely. Routers are a bit like miter saws in that there is often not a really good way to collect sawdust at the point where it is generated. When working with materials such as MDF that produce copious amounts of fine dust, a good dust respirator is essential to keep your lungs protected.

Routers have universal motors that produce a lot of power and torque but also make a deafening amount of noise! Wear earmuffs or earbuds offering a noise-reduction rating of at least 25 decibels when using either handheld routers or a router table.

Regarding eye protection, router bits spin at tremendously high revolutions, upwards to 20,000 rpm or more. If a cutter grabs a piece of wood and flings it, there's a good chance it will pack a punch. Protect your eyes with good-quality goggles or safety glasses. (This is a failing of mine, as I sometimes think my regular glasses will do the job. I am kidding myself.)

Speaking of spin hazards, when using large-diameter router bits, it's important to dial down their rotational speed. Their packaging should recommend a speed range, and you can find speed charts online as well.

Rockler jig for routing small and medium box parts

Trying to shape small parts on a router table is asking for trouble if you are not using a small parts sled or other means of keeping your fingers clear of the cutters. Router bits also must not slip in their collets during use. Be sure the collet and internal sleeve are clean, in good condition and properly tightened on the bit's shank before starting a procedure.

And of course, follow the general power tool rule: If you don't feel safe doing a specific task, just stop. Learn how to improve your method to make it safer.

Routers and router tables open new horizons for shaping and joining wood. Once you try them, watch the project possibilities grow!